Pereskia aculeata Mill.
Barbados Gooseberry, Barbados Shrub, Leaf Cactus, Ora-Pro-Nobis
Cactus lucidus, Cactus pereskia, Pereskia foetens, Pereskia fragrans, Pereskia godseffiana, Pereskia longispina, Pereskia pereskia, Pereskia rubescens, Pereskia undulata
Pereskia aculeata is a scrambling vine with stems that grow on trees in their native habitat. The stems are up to 33 feet (10 m) long and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. Younger stems have hooked thorns, while older stems have clusters of woody spines. Leaves are simple, entire, and deciduous in the dry season. They are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide. Numerous flowers appear in panicles. They are strongly scented, white, cream, or pinkish, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Fruits are rounded berries, translucent, white to pink, yellow, orange, or red, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
As with many cacti, Pereskias can be almost ignored and still flourish. One of the major advantages these plants pose as houseplants is their ease. Overwatering or overfeeding them is a bigger danger than neglecting them because it can damage their roots. If you repot them, remember to leave them alone for a brief period to avoid overstressing them and keep an eye out for common houseplant pests. Many of these cacti can't be grown as houseplants anyway due to their shrubby growth habit, and others are very rare, but when you do find out, Pereskias can be good in cultivation.
They like dry conditions and don't need to be repotted often, but it is still a good idea to refresh their soil by occasionally repotting. Be careful when repotting any cactus not to get hurt by their sharp spines and lift the plant from its mix and replace it in a new container before backfilling with soil. Do not water for a few weeks after repotting.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Pereskia.
This species is native to tropical America.
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